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Legends Paperback – 30 Jul 2014


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Product details

  • Paperback: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (30 July 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143127403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143127406
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 2.2 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,635,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

'Legends is everything a good spy novel should be, and much more besides. Warmly recommended' -- Yorkshire Evening Post

‘Littell deserves his comparisons with Deighton and le Carré’ -- The Times

‘Littell is a class act, one for the connoisseur’ -- Guardian

‘Robert Littell has long been among the subtlest of espionage magicians’ -- Sunday Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Connoisseurs of the literary spy novel have elevated Robert Littell to the genre's highest ranks, along with John le Carre, Len Deighton, and Graham Greene. Littell's novels include New York Times bestseller The Company (published in the UK by Pan Macmillan, translation rights sold in fifteen countries, film rights sold to Columbia Pictures), The Defection of AJ Lewinter (published in hardback by Duckworth), The Once and Future Spy, The Amateur, The Sisters (published in hardback by Duckworth), The October Circle, The Revolutionist, An Agent in Place, Mother Russia, and The Visiting Professor. A former Newsweek journalist, Littell is an American who makes his home in France. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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THEY HAD FINALLY GOTTEN AROUND TO PAVING THE SEVEN kilometers of dirt spur connecting the village of Prigorodnaia to the four-lane Moscow-Petersburg highway. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dr. P. J. A. Wicks VINE VOICE on 21 Mar 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was introduced to this book after another of Robert Littell's spy novels, The Company, wound its way on to my PDA to read on long journeys.

In Legends we follow one Martin Odum as he... no that's not right. We follow three Martin Odums. One is an Irish bomb expert, one a civil war Marksman, and the other a teetotal gumshoe who finds lost dogs for a living. He's been undercover so long in so many different "legends" that he's forgotten which one is really him. Running automatically on an encyclopedia of tradecraft he is being driven slowly insane by the different people living in his head.

And just to round it off, it would seem a lot of people are trying to kill him (or them).

This is a tense, tightly plotted novel that revels in the psychopathology required to lead multiple lives. It also highlights, however, that each of us have our own legends which we deploy for our own purposes to a greater or lesser extent. I'm becoming a big fan of Littell's and am looking forward to getting the next batch of his well-written books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ramses on 15 Jun 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Robert Littell has always been one my heroes, all his books are so clever and special they are among the few novels I will never part with. My all time favourite of his is "The revolutionist", which is a bit out of character for him since it is not some thriller-spy story, but all his books in general would make other authors pale with envy. Believe it or not the only one I have not read is ... the Company, which I plan to read this summer given its massiveness. As per this book, well another reviewer wrote what needed to be: brilliant as ever. We all age, maybe loose some neurons, but Robert is still on top. And his son does not seem too bad either ;-) Thanks Robert.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 23 April 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is brilliant. If you enjoy fast-paced thrillers and modern spy stories then you'll love it. It's ideal for reading on a plane, train or beach -- and it was so good that I spent an extra half hour on an exercise bike to finish it!

That was the fast review for people without much time... here's a few more thoughts:

I don't understand why there aren't more reviews of Robert Littell's work. His original Cold War era spy stories were terrific and, even though they are dated now, they still make good reading and give huge insights into global politics 30, 40 and 50 years ago.

His modern books are stunning.

I can understand that anyone who picks up The Company might stagger under the weight and run away screaming -- it's a huge book and its span is massive. (It's totally rewarding though so worth dedicating a couple of weeks to it).

Legends is a much easier proposition.

It's a relatively short, tightly-plotted and fast moving detective story, which moves into the realm of the CIA, KGB and spooky ops of the 1980s. It's a story about a single individual, but from that focused viewpoint you suddenly discover that Littell has revealed a plausible explanation of the current world political picture.

It is *such* a clever novel that I'm still awestruck by how subtle the clues and plot development were. One minute I was wondering whether the hero really could have been alive at the time of the US Civil War (or is he just bonkers?), and in the next I was gawping at the idea of what really went on behind the rise to power of the oligarchs in post-Soviet Russia.

The characters are real enough to draw chuckles and tears. Best of all, there's even an upbeat ending, rather than the bitter betrayal which usually finishes off most spy stories.

So why are there no other reviews?

Isn't anyone else reading modern fiction like this?

-gulp-
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Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoy Robert Littell's books (my personal favourite is 'The Revolutionist'), and this one didn't disappoint. It's very clever, and beautifully written. I find the subject matter - the pressure that having to live under an assumed identity may end up exerting on an individual's own personality - fascinating, and Mr Littell goes into it in enthralling detail. The way he describes the guiding hand of the American authorities behind the economic and social decline of Russia following the fall of the Soviet Union was fascinating, and, I suspect, not too far from the truth.

Sadly, my enjoyment came dangerously close to being spoiled by the appalling editing (or lack of it!) in the Kindle version I read. I began to wonder if the book had been proof-read at all before being published. It was sprinkled with the kind of grammatical howlers and spelling mistakes ('thunder and lightening') that would normally annoy me to the extent that I'd throw the book aside in disgust. It's a testament to the quality of Mr Littell's writing that he had me so hooked that I couldn't bring myself to do that, but it was a close-run thing. Please, whoever publishes Mr Littlell's books, invest the time and money in hiring a good professional editor to work on them before they reach the market - in whatever format. It seems horribly disrespectful, both to the author and his readers, to do otherwise.
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By H. meiehofer VINE VOICE on 25 Oct 2009
Format: Paperback
Legends has an intriguing premise; that a CIA agent has gone so deep under cover he cannot remember which of his many identities is the real one.

There are times when the characters even talk about each other as if they are separate people. This gets the reader thinking. Is our hero suffering from multiple personality disorder? Or is his cover so good that he is even fooling himself?

This theme applies to other characters in the book who take on different personalities in different circumstances. This adds to the overwhelming air of duplicity which the novel creates. NOTHING is as it seems and no-one can be trusted. This adds an air of plausibility to the notion that governments will commit the most outrageous acts if they perceive it to be in their interests and that moral codes are essentially meaningless.

Littell provides a confusing story where nothing is exactly as it seems. Indeed it is so confusing that we only discover who some of the main characters are and what relations they have with each other, well into the story. This does not make for easy reading. I found I had to read many passages more than once and backtrack from time to time just to recheck some of the story from before. But it is worth the effort as Legends is an exciting and intriguing spy/ crime thriller which has more intelligence than most stories in this genre.
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